Supporting families through the impacts of substance abuse

Family Drug Support’s Raewyn Whiting.

AN Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released in April 2024 reports that in 2022 and 2023, 31 percent of people aged fourteen and over consumed alcohol in ways that put their health at risk (‘Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia’).

This figure is similar to the 2019 figure of 32 percent.

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Between 2015 and 2023, the highest rates of alcohol and other drug related ambulance attendances were related to alcohol intoxication.

In 2022 and 2023 alcohol was the most common drug of concern for which people received treatment, accounting for 43 percent of episodes, according to the report.

Looking locally, in Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre’s second YOUth Speak survey, released at the end of 2023, 78 percent of the 298 respondents aged twelve to 24 identified alcohol and drugs as a main concern for young people.

In May, not-for-profit Family Drug Support (FDS) is offering a free ‘Support the Family’ workshop in Coffs Harbour for service providers.

The workshop is aimed at providing professionals and service operators with an understanding of what a family may be going through when a family member is struggling with alcohol, and how supporting families can improve the outcome for that person.

Facilitator Raewyn Whiting told News Of The Area, “The impact of someone’s drug/alcohol use on family members/carers is frequently emotionally draining and heartbreaking, bringing on a sense of helplessness.

“This is perpetuated by shame and stigma.

“Commonly, family members/carers are enslaved by emotions of guilt, fear, grief, and anger.

“Maintenance, care and support of their loved one can overwhelm families, who often do not have specialised knowledge about their individual’s problem and are unclear or unconfident how to respond to it or navigate services,” said Raewyn.

“Linking the family with support helps families navigate and access support for their own circumstances, it also recognises and can strengthen the family as a system of hope, support and change for their loved one.”

During the workshop, participants will learn how to communicate more effectively with families affected by alcohol and substance abuse issues.

The workshop will take place at Coffs Harbour Health Campus, Health Education Rooms, Block B on Wednesday 15 May.


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